7 min read

Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons?

Look for this the next time you give your pet a tummy rub 🐶💕

Human navels stand out (or in) pretty distinctly, but on our pets’ furry bellies, they can seem nonexistent. If you’ve ever wondered if dogs have belly buttons, don’t feel silly.

For all the time we spend giving stomach rubs, most pet owners will never notice their dog or cat’s navel unless they know exactly what they’re looking for.

Most mammals big and small — from the tiny Etruscan shrew to the blue whale — have this distinctive scar, even if we can’t see it.

Here’s what you need to know about your furry friend’s belly.

Do dogs have belly buttons?

Though our pets probably spend less time gazing at it than we do, all placental mammals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and even hamsters, who receive oxygen and nutrients through an umbilical cord while in the womb, have a navel. Once the umbilical cord is removed at birth, and the abdominal walls close up, the scar left from this results in your pet’s belly button.

While the mark on your pet’s stomach might not be as distinctive as a human’s belly button, it is still very much present, notes New York City-based veterinarian Dr. Robert Proietto.

“The ‘belly button’ is from the umbilicus which gives the fetus nutrition while it is in utero,” Proietto tells The Dodo. “When the puppies and kittens are born, the mother usually cleans away the placentas and a small piece of umbilicus is left to dry and fall off.”

No matter how the birthing process goes, your dog or cat will be left with a belly button — a little scar on her abdomen — which she will have for life.

But not all mammals have this special mark on their stomachs. Marsupials, such as kangaroos and koalas, who spend most of their early development in their mother’s pouch, and egg-laying mammals, such as the platypus and the echidna, have no need for umbilical cords so they never develop a belly button.

Can dogs have “outie” belly buttons?

A pet’s belly button can come in all shapes and sizes, and some may be far more noticeable than others.

Some outies are simply caused by extra scar tissue, while other prominent belly buttons may be a tad more serious — and may even require surgery to correct.

“Sometimes there is what is called an umbilical hernia, where the body wall has a small hole in it and abdominal contents fall through. This is called a reducible umbilical hernia,” Proietto explains. “Other times, there is a small amount of fat that is closed into the umbilical area and body wall, which looks like a little blob of tissue, more like the ‘outie’ belly button of a human. This is a nonreducible umbilical hernia.”

Small nonreducible hernias will not generally cause any issues for your pet, so they rarely need professional correction. However, Proietto does recommend that reducible umbilical hernias are surgically repaired to properly close the hole and mend the abdomen walls.

Where is a dog’s belly button?

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A dog or cat’s belly button scar is a lot easier to spot than you might think.

Next time your pet rolls on her back for a stomach rub, look at her mid-central abdomen, toward the end of the rib cage.

On most pets, it looks like a circular or oval wrinkle on the skin, notes Proietto, or a small flat vertical scar. The hair on your animal’s stomach may even swirl or wave around the belly button area.

If you can’t find your pet’s navel, that’s also perfectly all right. Once your puppy or kitten is born, the belly button’s job is done — and there’s nothing wrong with not having a prominent one.

For more interesting pet facts, check out this article about why some dogs and cats have two different-colored eyes.